FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 10.19.2021


Dear friends,

Between this November’s election and energized punditry around the midterms and 2024, electoral politics are back on the front page. I have also noticed an uptick in reporting on political uncertainties and the threat of constitutional crisis. At the same time, I take heart in the determination of nonprofits and their donors to keep showing up. Whichever way the partisan winds blow, we will be there with you to continue the work.

On a happy note, congratulations to the Smithsonian Institution and the Kennedy Center for landing recognition on Washingtonian’s power list: Washington’s Most Powerful Women 2021. I am inspired by these strong female leaders across power sectors in DC, but especially within the Nonprofits & Philanthropy and Arts categories. The article gives special acknowledgment to these women for leading during a time when COVID forced shutdowns and a racial reckoning renewed the urgency of their institutions’ curatorial and artistic decisions.

I’m sure you also know that Facebook has been in some hot water. Recent stories raise important questions around transparency, consumer harm, and regulation. For marketers, these issues and Facebook’s recent outage highlight the importance of channel diversification and independent list-building. This article from AdWeek explains the impact on conversion and delivery rates, and it articulates our larger challenge well:

Marketers…have known for years the merits of diversifying outside of Facebook, which has received multiple PR body blows, metrics snafus, crippling privacy restrictions from browsers, and existential regulatory crackdowns. The timing, it’s been noted, is not great. But it’s hard to kick the habit when Facebook ads work so well and the platform captures a diverse audience of 2.8 billion global monthly active users.

Meanwhile, other social media platforms see an opportunity. Last week, TikTok announced that their platform now has a billion active users. And they are planning to test and rollout new features. Of particular interest, TikTok recently announced a deal with Shopify that will enable the social media company to support e-commerce. I hope this means e-fundraising platforms are coming soon.

In “how we work” news, Marketing VP Barb Perell and COO Kerri Kerr recently shared this New York Times essay on brain cognition. The author, science writer Annie Murphy Paul, encourages readers to acknowledge and accept that the human brain has “stubborn intractable limits.” She argues that the expansive scope of work and knowledge have outgrown what the human brain can manage on its own. If this sounds bleak, don’t worry:

Fortunately, there is an alternative. It entails inducing the brain to play a different role: less workhorse, more orchestra conductor. Instead of doing so much in our heads, we can seek out ways to shift mental work onto the world around us and to supplement our limited neural resources with extraneural ones…The best chance we have to thrive in the extraordinarily complex world we’ve created is to allow that world to assume some of our mental labor. Our brains can’t do it alone.

Finally, Senior VP Margot O’Leary is queen of photography content at the Avalon virtual water cooler. Check out these incredible recommendations from her feed: the National Parks Conservation Association’s compilation of curious park artifacts, The Nature Conservancy’s 2021 Global Photo Contest Winners, and Siena Awards’ Drone Photo Awards 2021. Or, if goofy pets are more your speed, try the Comedy Pet Photo Awards.

Take care,


Allison Porter, President
Avalon Consulting Group
202-429-6080 ext. 102